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Southold may require contractors to obtain town-issued licenses

Bill Duffy

Should contractors be required to obtain licenses from Southold Town in order to do business locally?

That’s a question Supervisor Scott Russell would like addressed, since his office has received complaints of a lack of enforcement from Suffolk County, which currently issues contractor licenses.

During the Town Board’s Tuesday work session, Mr. Russell said contractors feel they aren’t able to compete with “ad hoc landscapers” and that they have described such unlicensed operations as “unfair competition.”

“We talked about this a couple of years ago and decided we didn’t want to get involved with another administrative review,” the supervisor explained. “But at the same time, if Suffolk County is not going to do its job, then we might want to start talking about the issue and figuring out how we can address it.”

Mr. Russell said he would also like the Town Board to explore the feasibility of requiring licenses when a dumpster is used at a residential property, since many homeowners reportedly fail to shield them and place them either too close to a neighbor’s property or in the town’s right of way. Town attorney Bill Duffy said he would provide the Town Board with dumpster permit examples from other towns.

As for contractors, Mr. Russell said another reason to require a license at the local level is that he believes most out-of-town businesses aren’t familiar with Southold Town code.

Councilwoman Jill Doherty said she believes there are similar problems with marine contractors and suggested the Town Board also look into requiring them to obtain a local license before doing business within the town.

Mr. Russell agreed that requiring licenses for both types of businesses should be looked into. He suggested the Town Board review East Hampton’s contractor license code as an example in order to start the discussion.

When reached for comment after Tuesday’s work session, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said the town hadn’t reached out to him about the issue. He said he would address the county’s Consumer Affairs Department on Wednesday about the town’s concerns.

“Local control is better control,” Mr. Krupski said. “If this is something he [Mr. Russell] feels the town would benefit from, then I’d be willing to look into it and work with him.”

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Photo: From right, town attorney Bill Duffy with Town Board members Jim Dinizio and Bob Ghosio at Tuesday’s work session. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

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